One Piece’s creator Eiichiro Oda hinted at the latest chapter’s groundbreaking revelation about Luffy in response to a decades-old fan question.
Warning: contains major spoilers for One Piece chapter 1044!
The true nature of Luffy‘s Devil Fruit abilities is a mind-blowing twist that recontextualizes much of what came before it, but One Piece‘s creator Eiichiro Oda actually subtly hinted at this reveal over two decades before it happened. Oda is well known for foreshadowing events long before they happen within the story of One Piece itself. But in a question-and-answer section of the manga’s twentieth volume, Oda slyly gave his biggest piece of foreshadowing of all.
One Piece is a long-running manga in Shonen Jump following the adventures of the pirate Monkey D. Luffy and his crew. While it is serialized weekly in Jump, sets of around ten chapters each are also collected into Tankobon volumes. These volumes contain fun extras like fan art and a Q&A section with the author called the SBS. Oda generally answers questions in a humorous manner, but he occasionally provides key pieces of information that he doesn’t have time to include in the story. They can also include hints as to later story beats, as one SBS from 20 years ago shows.
In the SBS for the 20th volume of One Piece, published in Japan in 2001, Oda is asked about what would happen if a human ate the Human-Human Fruit. At this point in the story, the only instance of this type of fruit that had appeared was Chopper’s standard version of the Fruit. So no one would have been surprised if Oda had just given a straightforward answer about it and didn’t elaborate further. However, instead of doing that, he gave a very peculiar non sequitur about the idiom “to become a human,” went back and forth on whether or not that would explain what would happen to a human who ate the Fruit, and then wrote that he was running away (by implication, to avoid answering the question further.) At the time, this just seemed like another one of Oda’s more surreal SBS answers, but in the light of the latest chapter of One Piece it takes on an entirely new dimension.
In chapter 1044, it is revealed that Luffy’s Devil Fruit isn’t actually the Gum Gum Fruit, but the Mythical Human-Human Fruit: Model Nika. Given the shocking nature of this reveal and the incredible powers that the Fruit has given Luffy over the course of the series, it is clear that the question asked of Oda in that SBS was actually incredibly relevant. And the fact that Oda danced around answering the question should have raised flags that this was an integral part of the story. But the general absurd tone of the SBS columns obfuscated the true nature of his answer his, subtly allowing him to indicate that eating a Human-Human Fruit could have interesting properties while also throwing One Piece fans off the scent of its existing relevance to the story.
This SBS question not only shows how good Oda is at subverting fan expectations, it also proves how far ahead the One Piece author plans out his story. If he didn’t already know that the Human-Human Fruit would play an important role later in the series, he likely would have given a much less cryptic answer. Instead by dodging the question in such a strange manner, Oda gave One Piece fans a subtle hint about Luffy‘s true powers over 20 years before he revealed them in the main story.
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